Still thrills in the chill
  |  First Published: August 2008

Merimbula has experienced cold and wind like everywhere else but for those anglers braving the winter elements, some exceptional fishing is still on offer.

Those fishing the beaches have been having a field day with salmon in plague proportions on some days.

Catches of 40 fish have occurred on some beaches with the odd fish nudging 5kg. At that size they are great sport even on heavier beach gear, but the average run of fish is around 2kg.

All beaches are producing fish but North Tura has been a standout. There’s been a cracker gutter to the north with the deepest part only 20m from shore.

Short casts are all that’s required and I’ve even seen some fishos down there using bream rods and 15g shiners having a ball on healthy fat salmon, with some fish taking 10 minutes to land.

Almost any method will work, with paternoster rigs, ganged pilchards, soft plastics and metal shiners all accounting for fish. Better baits to try are pilchards, bluebait, beachworms and pipis.

Expect some above-average tailor, too. Every August a few thumpers get caught, so if you get a bite-off the likely culprit will be a decent greenback.

If bite-offs continue, a light wire trace may be needed to get the tailor to shore.

Off the stones, the bread-and-butter species have put smiles on most rockhopppers’ faces. Blackfish, drummer, groper, bream and a few good snapper have had a chew and I can’t see that changing this month.

Drummer numbers and size will continue to increase as we head further into winter.

Lightly-weighted baits fished in the washes will account for the bigger fish. Better baits include whole crabs, cunjevoi, bread and prawns, if you can get fresh ones.

Use berley sparsely, just enough to get them interested.

Better ledges are Tura Head, Short Point and inside Merimbula Bay on the northern side near the wharf. The latter spot fishes particularly well with a southerly swell but care does need to be taken.


In the estuaries, August is the quietest month. The water is cold, clear and very uninviting and not many anglers fish. The fish are still there but can be very fickle in these conditions.

Switched-on anglers still do quite well but the finesse approach is certainly needed.

If casting lures, lighter leaders, thinner braid and finer-gauge hooks are required for consistent results. Use smaller lures and fish them slower.

In Merimbula Lake, the main channel in front of town is worth a look.

Bream and trevally are the main targets with blackfish plentiful towards the edges. Best methods are lightly-weighted soft plastics and fresh bait.

Striped tuna cubes and Bass yabbies are ideal baits but at this time of year the leatherjackets can be a nuisance when using softer baits.

If you’re anchoring, a little berley won’t hurt.

In the Top Lake, tailor and flathead are the main targets. Trolling smaller bibbed minnows and shiners should work for the tailor. Look for working birds and concentrate your efforts around them.

Fishing the shallower margins should see a few flattie fillets for the pan.

Outside, the bottom-bouncers are in full swing on the snapper, with most reefs holding a feed.

The leatherjackets are driving a lot of anglers nuts but if you can get through them, there are some good reds averaging 1.5-2kg with the odd fish to 5kg.

Best baits have been squid, pilchards and fresh strips of slimy mackerel, with Long Point, Horseshoe reef and Lennards Island to the south the pick spots.

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